Scritti Politti 7 inch

Scritti Politti single, Skank Bloc Bologna, St Pancras Records

Found: Camden Town second hand record shop

Date: 1978

This Is the first single from Scritti Politti. The band’s musicians –  Green Gartside, Nial Jinks and Tim Morley – were living in Camden, 1 Carol Street, having moved down from Leeds. They were squatters. Money saved from not paying rent was spent on their first single, released on their own label St Pancras Records. The cover shows their living room, but it also depicts the Gilbert Bayes finials and washing posts on the Sidney Street estate – walking regularly through Somers Town, these struck them as worth recording. 

Pete Simonson has known Green Gartside since the early 1990s and interviewed him in March 2022. He picks up the story:

‘Now there was a thought that Green lived in Somers Town, but he actually squatted on Carol Street –  he put his address on the cover along with the production costs,  because he was kind of a Euro Marxist at the time – and he was telling me that he had all sorts of visitors from his address being on there – Italian Marxists  …. Total weirdos, fans, but funnily, he also lived next to a brothel which was run by two – what he termed –  fierce Irish women who didn’t like the squatters. So they would phone up the police on the squat all the time and so they would have the police knocking around, when they’re actually up to nothing and there’s a brothel being run next door. 

But the linkage to the photograph, which actually Green took, is that he knew a few people that lived in Somers Town, particularly two women that they would come down to visit. And he was really taken by the finials and the washing lines.

So he took the snap, the cover. He didn’t know that they’re being stolen and appearing in Mayfair galleries. So he’s a bit amazed about that. But he was actually telling me it was a very weird and creative time. Even though some of the squats were rather filled with ne’er do wells and whatnot. And then there’s the more collective squats, which his was, but yeah, a really interesting tale of Camden then. He absolutely loved it.’

By Pete Simonson/Esther Leslie